Eye Cancer Patients Use New Radiation-blocking Glasses
New, clear-leaded safety glasses allow eye cancer patients to see during week-long sessions of radiation therapy at home, without sacrificing safety, according to a study by Paul T. Finger, MD, director of Ocular Tumor Services at The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, that was published in the June, 2004 issue of the American Journal of Ophthalmology.
The best treatment today for tumors that grow inside the eye, called intraocular tumors, is plaque therapy, in which a small bowl-shaped radiation device is placed onto the sclera, the white portion of the eye. The radiation destroys the tumor, but also passes through other tissue and some exits the eye. To contain the radiation during treatment, patients, until now, were temporarily blinded because they were required to wear an opaque lead patch.
“The new, clear-leaded eye glasses vastly improve patients’ quality of life during treatment by allowing them to see out of the irradiated eye, and they are just as effective as the patch in blocking radiation from escaping into the environment,” said Dr. Finger. “For patients with only one functional eye, the glasses were remarkable. For the first time, these patients could see and function with the glasses during therapy. Using the lead-patch, they were essentially blind.”
Eight patients were treated with palladium 103 ophthalmic plaque radiotherapy in the study. Radiation emission was measured at one meter to determine the glasses’ ability to block radiation. The glasses reduced exposure to levels acceptable for discharge to home in New York City.
The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, the oldest specialty hospital in the Western Hemisphere, is the primary teaching hospital for the New York Medical College. It has approximately 142,000 outpatient visits annually and over 20,000 surgical procedures per year. It has one of the nation’s most extensive eye, ear, nose and throat clinics.
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